A Glimpse into the Sausage Factory
At the last Senate meeting in September, 2003, our Chapter
made a motion, passed by the UFF Senate, to support in
principle certain protections for health benefits. Our
chapter suspected that something -- we were not quite sure
what, but something -- would come up.
We were right.
Although we are public employees, like teachers and
policemen, we are still getting our health benefits from
the state plan. Benefits are notoriously complex, and
during the reorganization, most reorganizers decided to
leave reorganizing health benefits for later.
Here is how it works. The State of Florida
underwrites (i.e., is responsible for paying claims for)
a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) program for
state employees. This is handled by the Department
of Management Services (DMS), which in the spirit of
efficiency, privatization, and sharing the boodle,
subcontracts to an insurance company (currently Blue
Cross/Blue Shield) to run the program. Notice that the
state, not the subcontractor, is financially accountable
for the payouts.
As we have all heard, health insurance costs are
rising. Drugs cost more, insurance companies lost a
bundle in the 1990s, rapacious lawyers are running
amok, fraud is draining reserves, choose your villain.
In 2002, Buck Consultants did a study for the DMS (see
outlining what might be done. And, so Dame Rumor tells
us, the DMS warned the Legislature this year that the
PPO program was running a deficit. This is Florida,
land of cuisinart accounting, so it is not clear what
income versus outgo generated what deficit, but because
of this warning, steps were taken.
The steps occurred during “reconciliation.” As the
gentle reader may have noticed, the Legislature was more
fractious than usual this year, which complicates
legislation because in order for a law to pass, the
House and the Senate have to pass identical versions,
and then that version has to be signed by the governor.
Thus, once each chamber has passed its own law, they
form a Conference Committee to ... reach a
compromise. In practice, it is the ultimate forum
for making insertions, deletions, and alterations
without leaving fingerprints, since the sponsors
cannot effectively defend their own bills.
If you go to the
during session, you will see hundreds of bills. The
faculty union has an executive director, a piece of
a lobbyist, and some secretaries; but we are part
of the Florida Education Association (FEA), whose
Goverment Relations division has a director, five
lobbyists, and a secretary. All to watch legislators,
and there are a lot of legislators, with hundreds of
bills. Which is why we always appreciate a little help
from our friends and allies.
A while ago, the USF campus unions formed a
committee of liaisons to keep each other informed.
Three weeks ago, the USF Chapter President for
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal
Employees (AFSCME, which represents USPS staff)
told our liaison that there was a plan to replace
our current health benefits plan with two plans:
one more expensive, and the other covering less.
After some hunting around, we found:
As this was all in “reconciliation,” there were no
fingerprints. There was, however, a $ 1000 bonus
for good professors. No, I am not making that up.
- In the House Appropriations bill, the two-plan
proposal we had been warned about, and
- floating around, an amendment to return to the
We contacted the UFF office, which during the
subsequent Senate meeting, reported the unpleasant
At the meeting, we asked for the FEA Government
Relations division to do what it could.
- Under the Current Plan, the in-network deductible
is $ 250 for individuals, $ 500 for families.
- Under the Standard Plan, which would cost about
what the Current Plan does now, the in-network
deductible would be $ 1250 for individuals, and
$ 2500 for families.
- Under the Plus Plan, which would cost rather
more than the Current Plan does now, the
in-network deductible would be $ 350 for
individuals, and $ 700 for families.
We should note that FEA's membership consists
almost entirely of K-12 teachers and educational
support staff who are not on the state program:
UFF is the “higher education” local for the FEA.
Thus we were asking the Government Relations Director
to put time and energy into an effort that benefits
one local (and also state employees in AFSCME, which
is a fellow AFL-CIO affiliate). This is where the
common bond is important: by standing together, and
protecting whoever is under attack at the moment, we
are, in the long run, protecting the entire group.
UFF was itself a target at that moment, and we were
asking the rest of FEA to help us out.
And FEA did indeed stalk the Appropriations
Conference committee. The Standard and Plus
plans mysteriously disappeared (but we've been
told that we would have had raises, or bigger
bonuses, or something, if we the benefits changes
had gone through), and the Current Plan is back
in place. At least for this year.
There are several points to be made about
Anyway, the reason why this tale was not hinted at
in the last biweekly was that while things looked
fixed by deadline last issue, the Legislature still
had 24 hours to run, so out of prudence and superstition,
the humble webmaster decided to wait it out.
- A lot of what a union does is seen by what
doesn't happen. And just as good things don't
happen by themselves, bad things don't not happen
- We really are in this together. This is just
one example of the immense support higher
education faculty have been getting from the K-12
teachers over the last few years. In fact, if
it wasn't for them, it isn't clear that we would
have a faculty union now.
- This isn't over. The budget is out of whack, the
governor is raiding trust funds, and the DMS is
still chewing its nails. We have one year's
grace. We should make use of it.
- About those bonuses (not raises, just bonuses):
Amendment 11 clearly places salary and
compensation in the lap of the Board of Governors,
which is currently passing the buck to the Boards
of Trustees. The Legislature is out of the loop:
it is not clear how legal those hypothetical
raises were, even if the Legislature had had any
intention of funding them.
Reports on the FEA Meeting
The Florida Education Association is the joint affiliate
of the American Federation of Teachers (itself an
AFL-CIO affiliate) and the National Education Association.
Its primary legislative body, the FEA Delegation, meets
annually in May. This year, it met in Orlando.
Two of UFF's delegates this year were USF's own
Sonia Wohlmuth, from the College of Arts & Sciences, and
Sherman Dorn, from the College of Education. Here are
From Sonia Wohlmuth:
As a first time delegate to FEA I was surprised at the
size of the gathering (886 registered delegates) and the
diversity of its participants (28.4% minority). The work
done by FEA to ascertain that its membership is aware of
legislative initiatives is admirable. These last six
years have been difficult ones for K-12 public schools
in Florida. The impact of unfunded mandates such as No
Child Left Behind are keenly felt by classroom teachers
who are asked to do more with less. The creation of the
three year high school option is symptomatic of the
disconnect between proposals for quality control and
fiscal reality. The growing realization that the U.S.
public eduational system, once a model for developing
nations, is under assault was in many ways a leitmotif
of the conference. School choice, privatization models,
and voucher systems seem to portend a return to separate
and unequal facilities. That this should be the
undercurrent of an event that was also celebrating the
50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education lent a
The FEA delegates are viewed as a highly political
group capable of having a substantive impact on their
communities. This was evident in the campaign rhetoric
of the three Saturday morning visitors -- Bill Nelson,
Betty Castor, and Jim Davis. All seem to feel that
Florida will once again by the focal point of the
presidential election. In fact, Bill Nelson seemed to
think that the I-4 corridor will be the real deciding
factor. It is one of the fastest growing areas in the
state with residents at higher income and education
levels than some areas of Florida; there is also
growing diversity in this population with many new
residents coming from out of state. It may well be
that come November Florida will once again be in the
national spotlight -- “All eyes on the mouse.”
From Sherman Dorn:
Here are three bits of news on the FEA Delegate Assembly.
First, a symbolic bit tied to the 50th anniversary of
Brown v. Board of Education (May 17, 1954): the
Executive Cabinet of FEA approved a resolution in April
commemorating the decision. The end of the resolution
reads as follows:
“Accordingly, the FEA resolves to take the following
steps to help our state realize the promise of Brown
and, in so doing, bring our great democracy closer to
its first principles:
- The FEA will continue to promote programs and
policies that will help close the achievement gap,
promote access and eliminate barriers to
educational opportunity for all of Florida’s
- The FEA will identify, publicize and challenge
inequalities that still exist.
- The FEA will stand with others who are committed
to ensuring that all of America’s children receive
the high-quality education to which they are
- The FEA will continue to oppose discrimination in
all its forms—whether based on race, gender, or
The most important practical business of the Florida
Education Association Delegate Assembly was
organizational housekeeping: voting on the last steps
of merging two unions, a process that began in 2000.
As a result of the merger, the merged FEA reduced
professional staff by more than a dozen. The delegate
assembly will continue to meet annually. Officers
will be term-limited (to 3 terms). There will continue
to be an elected financial officer.
The delegates also approved a budget with a state
affiliate dues increase, but it will not affect the
dues of any United Faculty of Florida member. Unlike
most K-12 locals, faculty and related professional
employees pay 1 percent of our salaries. Elementary
and secondary teachers pay flat dues that rise whenever
state and national dues go up. In almost all cases,
they pay well more than 1 percent of their salaries in
dues. When state or national affiliate dues rise, the
United Faculty of Florida does not increase its dues
but is forced to be a bit more efficient.
Special Report on the Administration Salary Proposal
On May 28, at the bargaining session where the union and
the administration are negotiating a new contract, the
administration's bargaining team presented a package of
proposals, including a new version of Article 23, on
salaries. While the preamble --- and statements to the
press --- indicate 12 % raises over the next three years,
the fine print describes a more dubious system.
The proposal divides the bargaining unit into two
groups, ranked faculty and non-ranked faculty. As the
Legislature mandates, everyone gets a $ 1000 bonus.
After that, the division begins.
For Ranked Faculty
In the preamble, the proposal begins: "The University
recognizes that salaries for ranked faculty at the
University of South Florida are, on the average,
substantially lower than at peer institutions ..."
It then proposes a 5.5 % average raise for the
2004-2005 academic year. The raises for individual
ranked faculty are to be determined as follows. Faculty
will be rated on a system with 100 points possible.
(Notice that their proposal does not indicate how the
100 points are assigned, which, in practice, introduces
a great deal of discretion into the procedure.)
- Up to 20 points will be awarded based on the 2003
annual evaluation. The method for awarding these
points is not given.
- Up to 30 points will be awarded based on the
chair's or supervisor's evaluation of the
faculty member's performance during the last
five years; this component is apparently
- Up to 40 points will be awarded based on the
distance between the faculty member's current
salary and the market data provided in the
Oklahoma State University annual survey, and
on years of service in current rank. The method
for assigning these points is not given.
- Up to 10 points will be awarded based on total
years of service. The method for assigning these
points is not given.
Once these scores are computed, raises will be
awarded based on these scores: the proposal does not
make any statement about how to convert scores into
raises except to say that the lower 25 % of the ranked
faculty are to receive the minimum raise, which is
apparently 1.5 % minus $ 1000 (or zero for such faculty
earning less than $ 66,667 a year). (Note: we are
talking about faculty who are rated "satisfactory" or
above; as usual, faculty not rated satisfactory are
not eligible for any additional money.)
This point system is a significant change from
previous practice, which was to separate out the three
kinds of annual raises.
What the effect of mixing these into one package is
unclear, especially since the proposal does not tell
how points would be converted into raises: we presume,
but the proposal does not say so explicitly, that
faculty with more points would get higher raises.
- Individual departments developed guidelines for
converting annual evaluations into raises.
- The minimum raise was a raise in base pay, and
was not reduced by any rationale (the proposal
reduces it by the amount of the one-year bonus).
- Compression/inversion raises were computed and
THE POINT IS: a quarter of the ranked (eligible)
faculty get minimal raises, if any, and the remainder
get raises based on a point system that mixes apples
(performance), oranges (market equity), and nightshade
(discretionary) and enters the result into an unknown
formula. We have no guarantee that even half of the
ranked faculty would get noticeable raises at all.
The proposal outlines the usual promotional raises.
The proposal also sets the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007
raises to be 3 % each year, "barring significant budget
reductions," etc. This is another major change, as the
past practice was to bargain salary each year, because
each year the amount of money (and the inflation rate)
was different. Anyway, that would be an average raise
of 11.9 % (which the proposal itself calls 12 %) over the
next three years. But that 12 % may be just vapor as the
administration implicitly claims the authority to rescind
the second and third raises unilaterally.
One important point: the 5.5 % average raise is to
be a raise in the base rate, not in what faculty actually
earn. This is clear as summer salaries would be cut
substantially: "Faculty on 9-month appointments shall
receive 3 % of their regular 9-month base salary per
contact hour taught during any summer term." The result
for a faculty member with $ 50,000 9-month pay would be
$ 3,500 less for teaching two courses (as opposed to
$ 3,750 combined bonus and a 5.5 % raise, for a total
increase over the 2004-2005 year of $ 250). If you want
to find out how you would do, you can experiment with
the MS Excel worksheet we have posted
(download, and then replace the $ 50,000 in red with
your salary, and after clicking on elsewhere in the
window, watch the numbers).
For Non-Ranked Faculty
Both non-ranked faculty and A & P professionals will
receive an average 2 % raise "to be distributed in
consideration of performance and salary market,"
whatever that means. There is no mention of how
low non-ranked faculty salaries are.
We have posted their proposal, as
Bargaining Gets Weird
Bargaining is a bit like poker, say experienced
negotiators, which is why public announcements of
contract proposals should be treated warily. In the
last Biweekly Extra (above), we took a careful look at
the much-ballyhooed administration proposal, and found
it somewhat less (and other) than the 12 % raise it was
announced to be. Now we take a broader look at the
First, some background. On January 7, 2003, the
administrations of the eleven Florida public universities
(including New College) unilaterally decided not to
recognize the contract between the faculty union and the
Board of Regents. Within months, most administrations
(including USF's) decided to recognize the union, which
meant that bargaining new contracts should begin.
Seventeen months later, USF's bargaining is ahead of
eight of the other universities, with three-fourths of
the contract tentatively agreed upon. Seventeen months
is a long time, and both the USF union chapter and the
USF board have expressed ... impatience. The USF union
Chapter has consistently expressed a strong preference
for going with the old contract language, perhaps with
some tweaking; this would allow us to move forward with
a contract both sides understand and could live with.
The administration has repeatedly presented major
changes, which has slowed things down.
For faculty, this is extremely frustrating. We do
have a contract, which the administrations refuse to
recognize and which the Public Employees Relations
Commission (appointed by Governor Bush) has declined
to compel the administrations to recognize; our
lawyers are proceeding on that case very cautiously.
Like all contract negotiations, the bargaining teams
have been meeting, making carefully worded statements and
keeping their cards close to their chests. The reason is
that contract negotiations are like poker, and
information is valuable.
When contracts were negotiated between the union and
the Board of Regents, contracts were negotiated within a
matter of months. The union bargaining team was given
authority to bargain, and the union senate didn't meddle
much (although it did give advice, solicited and
otherwise); this practice is quite common, going back to
President Washington's policy decision to present
treaties to the Senate and have them vote them up or
down. In theory, this was presumption on Washington's
part; in practice, if the Senate got involved in
negotiating treaties, nothing would ever get signed.
This system gets severely stressed when negotiations
go on ... and on ... and on ... .
Here is what the teams have been doing. In March,
2003 (fifteen months ago), the administration agreed to
bargain a new contract, and we have been bargaining a
contract with the same table of contents as the old one,
negotiating article by article. The bargaining teams
were appointed over summer 2003, but the administration
couldn't or wouldn't get its act together until Chapter
President Weatherford growled at the board last November.
Since then, the two teams have negotiated new versions
of three-fourths of the articles (essentially the old
language, with tweaking, essentially what our team
proposed, although sometimes it takes a while to get
the article agreed on). Each article, once agreed upon,
is initialled by the two Chief Negotiators (Accounting
Professor Bob Welker for the union; Internal Counsel
Noreen Segrest for the Administration); once all
articles are initialled, the contract has to be ratified
by the faculty in the Bargaining Unit (i.e., by a
ratification election) and by the Board.
So by May 28, when both the union and the board are
publicly expressing their desire to finish up, imagine
our surprise when the administration team presents a
proposal for all the remaining articles as a
take-it-or-leave-it package, with a lot of radically new
language, including major changes in the salary article:
It is not clear why the administration created
this hullaballoo. Of course, it is nice to brag about
raises, however fictional, after Gainesville announces
its raises --- or what Gainesville says is its raises,
as it refuses to even recognize the union there. The
entire episode has probably simply eaten up two weeks
of bargaining, with what accomplishment is unclear.
As to the actual salary situation, there are two
benchmarks for ranked faculty. One is the Board of
Regent's own benchmark in the 2002-2007 long-range plan,
which calls for the mean salary to be raised by about
a third between 2002 and 2007. The other is the study
outlined at the Faculty Senate site at
indicating that USF mean salary is about a fourth below
the national average. Presumably, the situation is
comparably bad for non-ranked faculty, although there
has been less publicity about that, and certainly
nothing in the administration proposal for addressing
Tomorrow, the bargaining teams meet again.
Hopefully, this means that some bargaining will take
Several years ago, Governor Jeb Bush wanted to
give faculty ... a bonus. No raise, just a
one-year bonus. The union held out, and the issue
went to impasse, and as a result, (satisfactory)
faculty got a 2.5 % across-the-board raise. (All
faculty: again, the administration is not going
to deny out-of-unit faculty something that the
union wins for in-unit faculty.)
The union has been able to protect and defend
faculty repeatedly, but it is limited by the level
of support it gets from those it protects and
defends. Membership and participation is voluntary,
like donating blood. But as donated blood is a
matter of life versus death, union membership and
participation is a matter of justice versus
caprice. And the reality is that a union needs
a lot of support.
An old union organizer told me that he could
tell the level of membership and participation
in a bargaining unit by looking at its contract:
no matter how effective the bargaining team (and
we have been very lucky in ours), it requires
the clout strong membership gives it in order
to succeed. And it requires a lot of volunteers
simply to do the job of communicating with
faculty, finding out their needs, desires, and
aspirations, and communicating what the union
knows and is doing.
Here is a mental exercise. Everyone who
was here that impasse year has a salary 2.5 %
higher than it would have been if it hadn't
been for the union. (And that's just for that
year: over the years, the union has won many
things for faculty.) Union membership is 1 % of
base salary. (Yes, that's a lot: for the gentle
webmaster, it's almost as much as the combined
membership fees for the three primary academic
organizations of my field.) Joining the union
is tantamount to donating two-fifths of that one
raise, and keeping the remaining 1.5 %; that
two-fifths will pay the dues for life. In a
sense, all subsequent raises won by the union
(real ones, not "12 % with fine print") are
So send in a membership form today: it's
And anyone interested in volunteering to help
the union help faculty --- and the university
--- can contact our membership chair, Professor
Sherman Dorn, at
The English Department
Over the past two months, several faculty members
of the USF English Department have been accused of
various infractions and derelictions. While the
USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida is
not very involved at this point, the union is
profoundly concerned by many aspects of this
First, we are all members of the USF
community, and the entire community is involved
when a department gets in this much trouble. We
are all affected in many ways, from our concern
for our colleagues and the embarrassment of the
university to the programmatic and personnel
changes and the precedents set. This is a serious
if not dangerous situation, and we all must hope
for an effective and equitable resolution of the
We have seen a sequence of faculty members
publicly accused of violating, or nearly violating,
or perhaps violating rules and regulations,
possibly unwittingly. We are concerned about this
for three reasons.
- It should be clear whether a rule or
regulation has been violated.
Many rules and regulations are
promulgated for good reasons. But they are
written in words, and that creates problems.
The words may be ambiguous, lending them to
a variety of interpretations: if a faculty
member interprets them one way, and the
administration another, the result is often
a lot of headache. Or the words may have
unintended consequences, and if one party
goes with what they believe is the spirit of
the law, and the other with the wording, the
result is more grief.
In general, the courts tend to prefer to
stick to the wording of the law when
possible, if only because the alternative
requires a degree of clairvoyance. But
that means that rules and regulations should
be written with care. And if a rule is
written with the intention of barring
certain behavior, and yet the wording does
not bar that behavior (or does not bar
apparently similar behavior), it is usually
wise to change the rule so that "from this
day forward ..." Disciplining someone for
something not exactly in the rules is
usually unfair, invites tyranny, and is
There is another problem: the rule that
is always broken (like the 65 mph speed
limit). Such a rule allows the
administration the discretion to proceed
against almost anyone they dislike, and
gives them the alibi that "we're just
enforcing the rules." But that is not
quite true: such rules are selectively
enforced. Unions tend to dislike such booby
traps, preferring rules to be either
uniformly enforced or abolished.
Ambiguity in the rules, or selectivity
in enforcement, leads to several pathologies.
Timid faculty refuse to take risks, and
either do nothing or bombard their superiors
with requests for clearances. Aggressive
faculty gamble, stumbling from one mix-up
to another. Administrators divide into
those who don't like their time consumed
by nonsense, often letting serious
infractions slide with the minutae, or those
who are determined to hew the line,
obstructing the operation of the university
for one triviality after another. And we
have not mentioned the rare capricious
administrator who uses his discretion for
his own ends.
- Some of the accusations are against faculty
who thought that their actions were
legitimate because ... they were told it was
Faculty have varying competence in
paperwork, and some of our top faculty (in
their own subjects) have difficulty with
bureaucracy. Faculty rely on administrators
to administrate, and administration includes
keeping track of the complex detail work
that administrators --- not faculty --- have
Even the IRS has a (limited) policy of
not punishing taxpayers who follow the
advice of IRS operators: the IRS still
wants its taxes, but waives the fines.
Similarly, a wise policy at USF would be to
require that anomalies previously accepted
by the administration should be rectified
The moral problem is that a faculty
member should be able to rely on official
advice. More practically, if faculty cannot
rely on official advice, the only safe thing
to do is to get written confirmation from
the provost's office. Does the provost have
the resources to handle every query? The
result of a punitive policy could be
One final observation. There is a principle on
dealing with infractions called "progressive
discipline." The idea is that many violations are
due not to malice but to frailty, and discipline
supposed to be corrective, not punitive. Thus
the first or second violation are not treated as
harshly as the third. Draconian punishment,
treating first and second infractions severely
(such as being fired), tend to be demoralizing,
but effective as a deterrent only if uniformly
applied (which it rarely is). The primary
reason for draconian punishment is that it makes
for good theatre, but that is not a reasonable
way to run a university.
- There is a feeding frenzy aspect to all
this. One investigation produces alarming
findings (released to the press) which
generates audits producing more findings
(some incomplete) and so on. Even if there
is a serious problem in the English
Department, it is not clear how a frenzy
will improve matters.
Thus far there have been eight articles
in the USF Oracle, four each in the Tampa
Tribune and St. Petersburg Times, and one
in the Chronicle of Higher Education --
not counting letters to the editor.
A more conservative method of conducting
an investigation of a department is to have
auditors go through the books --- quietly
--- and talk to people --- discretely ---
and then present a report to the
Administration, which only then takes
action. This drop-drop-drop approach
demoralizes the department, alarms the
students, and increases the risk of
litigation: precipitate revelations, if
proven false, may be difficult to defend.
Thus far, a chair has been deposed,
two faculty have left, and a third
non-renewed, leaving the English
Department's Writing Center imploded. It
is not clear how much of this is due to
just to the frenzy itself, and any
department could find itself in a frenzy.
And frenzies can spread ...
A Clarification of the Bargaining Process
A few weeks ago the Administration presented, and
publicized, a salary proposal as part of a bundle
of items, to the UFF bargaining team. This is the
proposal for a somewhat-less-than 5.5 % MEAN raise
this year, with an unenforceable promise of two
subsequent 3 % MEAN raises, to ranked faculty.
(Everyone else -- except senior administrators --
get a 2 % MEAN raise; oh yes, and the legislature
gave out $ 1000 bonuses.)
THIS IS ONLY A PROPOSAL: THE UFF TEAM HAS NOT
ACCEPTED THE PROPOSAL, AND BARGAINING IS CONTINUING.
The administration has assured us that they are
bargaining in good faith and that their initial
proposal is not a “done deal” but a legitimate
proposal subject to the bargaining process.
Here is what is happening.
- The Administration and UFF bargaining teams are
meeting to work out a contract to present for
approval. They are going through the table of
contents of the old contract, article by article,
(but not in order). After language for an
article is agreed upon, the Chief Negotiators of
each team initial the agreed upon article (thus
Tentatively Agreeing, or TA'ing, the article),
and go on to the next article.
Recently, there has been some movement on Article
23, and we hope to get Tentative Agreement on
language both sides can live with. Six articles to
- After the entire contract has been TA'd, it is
then presented to the Board of Trustees, and
to the faculty for approval. ONLY AFTER BOTH
THE BOARD AND THE FACULTY APPROVE THE CONTRACT
IS IT IN FORCE. Thus the administration
proposal that we've seen described is still
only a proposal; in particular, there is no
Tentative Agreement on Article 23 on salaries
(or summer school).
We have refrained from broadcasting particulars
because public announcements of proposals can
restrict a team's freedom of action. We do discuss
bargaining developments at chapter meetings, and
one of the perks of membership is that members are
always welcome to chapter meetings on payday Fridays
for free lunch (sandwiches and sodas) and bargaining
updates. (And we often conclude by giving a book as
a door prize.) And the more support and counsel we
have, the stronger we are. Come and join the
Your Protection During Investigation: What the
Weingarten Rule Means
In 1975, the Supreme Court ruled that a private-company
employee represented by a union has the right to request
union representation at any interview that a prudent
person thought might lead to discipline. Because the name
of the case was NLRB v. Weingarten, this is called the
Weingarten rule. In 1978, the Florida Public Employees
Relations Commission decided that Weingarten rights
extend to public employees in Florida. (The title of that
case was Seitz v. Duval School Board, 4 FPER 4154.)
This is one of the most powerful procedural rights that
unionized public employees have outside a
collective-bargaining agreement. (Yes, the same rights
are also codified in the expired 2001-03 collective
bargaining agreement.) YOU HAVE THE POWER TO STOP
But a faculty member represented by the United Faculty
of Florida must assert her or his Weingarten rights. If
you are in a meeting and a supervisor or a representative
of the dean's office asks questions that a prudent person
thinks MIGHT lead to discipline, all you need to do is
say, "I would like a representative of the United Faculty
of Florida with me before I answer questions."
If a supervisor, dean, or an auditor requests a meeting
with you about something that might be disciplinary -
EVEN IF IT IS LABELED AS PRELIMINARY OR SOMEONE PROMISES
YOU "IT'S NOTHING" - you have the right to a union
representative being with you. While a union representative
cannot interfere with questioning, having an outside person
can change the dynamics, and you will have someone else
there who will be taking notes independent of the
administration. One experienced union hand once told the
newsletter editor, "The worst timing for a go-it-alone
attitude is when you're under investigation. Only a fool
then throws away the rights that unions bring."
How Bargaining Concludes: Two Paths
Under Florida public-employee law, there are two common
ways for collective bargaining to end.
Path one: agreement. If bargaining teams for the two sides
agree to the text of a collective bargaining agreement,
they are legally bound to submit that agreement for
ratification by the employer (the USF Board of Trustees)
and the collective-bargaining agent (the United Faculty
of Florida). Only rarely does either side refuse to ratify
an agreement in Florida.
Path two: impasse. If bargaining teams for the two sides
cannot agree on the entire text of a collective bargaining
agreement, and at least one side declares an impasse,
there are arguments before a neutral impasse hearing master
about the parts of the agreement that are at impasse. The
hearing master recommends a settlement. If the two sides
continue to disagree, statute decides who has the right
to impose an impasse resolution. An impasse resolution
sometimes follows the hearing master's recommendation
closely, but that is not required by law and was not
usually the case when we were state employees and the
legislature imposed the final settlement. Now that the
Board of Trustees is supposed to resolve impasses, we
have no record on which to base a prediction. UFF elected
officials have serious concerns about the ability of the
BOT to be a neutral decision-maker in resolving an impasse
if it occurs, because they are unelected employers and
because the USF BOT has a mediocre record in respecting
faculty rights and recognizing faculty work.
An impasse resolution is only in force for ONE year. (And
the two sides go back to the table for that part of the
collective bargaining agreement.)
After an impasse resolution is imposed, the two sides
STILL have the capacity to ratify the agreement,
including BOTH the pieces agreed to in collective
bargaining AND the impasse resolution. Ratification
createsa binding agreement for all the agreed-to parts for
the length of the contract. Again, an impasse resolution
is the exception, only in forcefor one year. The agreed-to
parts of the agreement become the "status quo"terms and
conditions of employment that continue beyond the end of
the agreement unless changed by collective bargaining. An
impasse resolution does NOT become the status quo.
(This explanation is a simplified version of a complex
In the August 5 Biweekly contents, it was reported that this
Extra was broadcast to the unit on August 4.
In fact, it was broadcast to the union membership on August 4.
Defend Summer Pay and Fight for Fair Raises!
EVENT: UFF Chapter President's address to the Board of Trustees
DATE: Thursday, August 19, 2004
TIME: 11 a.m. until whenever the Board lets Roy speak
PLACE: Marshall Center Ballroom, Tampa Campus
Contract negotiations with the administration are at a critical point;
we are in difficult bargaining over faculty salaries. Administrators
want faculty to accept a salary package that would both cut pay for
summer teaching and leave many faculty salaries lagging behind increases
in the cost of living.
We need UFF members to demonstrate their commitment to seeking a fair
salary structure. Come to the Trustees' August 19th meeting to show
your support for union chapter president Roy Weatherford and his call
for a fair contract that equitably rewards faculty effort. Your
attendance will help send a strong signal that we insist upon fair
raises and will not stand for any scheme that effectively cuts faculty
to let organizers know that you can attend on August 19th and for more
details about the event.
The collective-bargaining teams from the United Faculty of Florida
and the USF administration have met several times in the last few weeks,
and while the union bargaining team has made considerable progress on
several items, the teams are still apart on several issues, including
the following two:
The bargaining team is resisting these administration proposals because
they are not in the faculty's interest nor are they in the university's
- The administration still wants to cut summer teaching salaries for
- The administration wants only a 1.0-percent minimum raise for faculty
rated SATISFACTORY OR BETTER.
- Cutting summer salaries is unequal and possibly illegal. For more
than two decades, the union contract required Florida universities to
pay nine-month faculty on a pro-rated basis during the summer. The
administration would like to end that practice, and if you are a
nine-month faculty member, you can see how much money you'd lose by
downloading an Excel spreadsheet
(http://www.uffusf.org/connections/Summer2004.xls) and inserting your
nine-month salary. Generally, faculty who teach in the summer need to
do so, and the summer-salary cut thus pays for the raises of some
faculty by cutting salary for others. In addition, faculty on research
grants would be paid at the pro-rated basis, so the cut only targets
those who are teaching. We believe this would immeasurably harm the
morale at USF beyond the concrete cuts to individual faculty.
In addition, some union officers are concerned that the proposal may
be illegal, because summer research and administrative assignments
would still be paid on a pro-rated basis. For example, if a faculty
member teaches a course and also conducts research on a federal grant,
the faculty member would then be paid at a higher rate for the grant
than what the university would otherwise pay her or him for teaching.
In the past few years, USF has had to repay several millions dollars
of federal grants for the violation of federal cost-accounting
standards. One of the absolute dicta of federal grants is that
faculty are not paid higher on the grant than by the university
otherwise. Whether this split pay scale for the summer would violate
federal standards is an open question, but it is unwise to risk the
violation. In general, we think it much wiser to pay each member
of the faculty on the same scale (for that faculty member) for each
contact hour of assignment, whether the faculty member is engaged
in teaching, research, service, or administrative duties.
- A 1.0-percent pay raise would in effect be a pay cut for
satisfactory faculty. The union bargaining team is concerned that
dozens of faculty rated satisfactory would receive only the minimum
pay raise under the administration's current proposal. According
to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Southern urban
inflation rate was 3.2 percent between June 2003 and June 2004
(http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.t03.htm). You can do the
math. We are not talking about faculty rated unsatisfactory or
poor (who have not been eligible for raises in the past, either).
SO WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?
First, there will be a bargaining session this evening -- Wednesday,
August 4 -- where the United Faculty of Florida bargaining team will
again present counter-proposals that do not involve a summer
teaching pay-cut and do not low-ball faculty who work hard and are
rated satisfactory or better.
In addition, the chapter is planning the attendance of as many
faculty as possible at the August 19 trustees' meeting on the Tampa
campus. If the administration's bargaining team will not make a
reasonable counter-proposal at the next bargaining session, we need
to show the top-level administrators and the trustees that the
faculty as a whole are dissatisfied with the administration's
proposals thus far. Typically, only administrators and a few others
show up at trustees' meetings. Having many faculty attend the
trustees' meeting would be unusual and would show significant
support for the bargaining team's efforts.
In the last academic year, the union bargaining team has spent
hundreds of work hours on the bargaining sessions and in preparation
for them -- with no pay and no course releases. The rest of us can
support their efforts RIGHT NOW by making plans to attend the August
19 meeting. If we have a successful conclusion to bargaining, we do
not need to show up.
But we need to begin planning now. Starting this weekend, teams of
union members will be calling members (and non-members we know to be
supporters of the United Faculty of Florida), asking you and your
colleagues to commit to coming to the trustees meeting on the 19th.
If you know NOW that you can make the meeting, please reply by e-mail.
And if you are willing to volunteer a few hours to make phone calls,
please let us know.
Several years ago, USF President Judy Genshaft promised that she
would not use the reorganization of the state universities as an
excuse to cut the contractually established summer pay rate. We
need to make sure she upholds her promise. We need your commitment
to help out, either by coming August 19 or by helping to make phone
calls to your colleagues. This is for your future and the
The Staff Union
Probably no organization has endured more attacks
from Governor Bush than the American Federation of
State, County, and Municipal Employees. AFSCME
represents the employees that were the primary
targets of privatization, downsizing, reassignment,
and public displays of gubernatorial and legislative
contempt. Of course, our own Florida Education
Association (FEA) has also felt the heat, but we
were but next in the line of fire.
It is a measure of our respective positions
that the United Faculty of Florida, a union local
of the FEA, could pressure the USF administration
to voluntarily recognize UFF three months after the
university system reorganization, while the USF
administration has absolutely refused to deal with
AFSCME, which has represented staff for years.
Readers may recall UFF's card campaign, when
UFF asked faculty to sign a card saying that they
they wanted to be represented by UFF. About two
thirds of all faculty signed, enough to compel a
"certification election" on whether faculty wanted
to be represented by UFF. Such elections are not
pleasant, and avoiding the unpleasantness was
probably one reason why the USF administration
decided to voluntarily recognize UFF.
AFCSME also collected enough cards from staff
to compel an election, and because of the
administration's stubbornness, there will be an
election. The Public Employee's Relations
Commission (PERC) will be sending ballots to staff
at home addresses on August 18, and they must be
received by PERC by September 14. If the majority
of votes are in favor of representation by AFSCME,
then the USF administration will be compelled, by
law, to recognize and bargain with AFSCME, just as
the administration has recognized and is bargaining
with faculty and police.
AFSCME and FEA are affiliates: FEA is
jointly affiliated with the National Education
Association (NEA) and the American Federation of
Teachers (AFT), and both AFSCME and AFT are members
of the AFL-CIO. During the recent confrontations
with the administration, and with the legislature,
AFSCME and AFT have collaborated on major issues
(readers may remember that it was AFSCME which
gave us the original heads up on a legislative
plan to jack up our health insurance premiums,
a plan we together managed to block, at least for
this year: see
it is the vigilance of our affiliates, not the
generosity of the administration, that is
responsible for our respite). Unions have long
found that if they do not hang together, they hang
And it is in the university interest to have
a staff union. Unions are ultimately in favor of
due process, and the professionalism that due
process entails, and opposed to the capricious and
short-sighted use of power that causes major
problems in the long run. And unions create job
conditions that make it easier to attract capable
Earlier this summer, as PERC deliberated over
the cards, the UFF Chapter at USF resolved to ask
faculty to show their support for the staff union
with green ribbons: